So, this month I decided to do Whole 30. It’s the final day and I thought I’d tell you about it.
You can read all about how Whole30 works here. Basically it’s like Paleo Lent. If you’re doing Paleo (which I kind of do), it’s 30 days of focused, determined effort to do everything right.
There’s really not a lot to it. Essentially, you avoid eating the following:
- Anything sweetened. This includes artificial sweeteners, and natural sweeteners like honey
- Grains – wheat, corn, rice, millet, all that stuff
- Legumes – beans, peas, peanuts.
- White potatoes, although sweet potatoes are fine (and I had a lot of them!)
Also, you’re supposed to avoid processed food in general (assuming you can find anything processed that also doesn’t have anything in the above list). And no making fake Paleo versions of non-Paleo foods. Like muffins made with coconut flour or whatever.
Overall, I did pretty well. If I were grading myself, I’d give me a 97%. The only slip-ups I had were a visit to a barbecue place and a cookout. I didn’t eat anything obviously off the list, like cheesecake, but adopted a don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy on the full ingredient list.
A few times I had some sweet potato chips. Kind of violates the spirit of the thing, but I needed something other than popcorn to munch on while watching the thrilling final episodes of Breaking Bad.
This wasn’t nearly as much of a struggle for me as it might be for other people, since I don’t drink and I pretty much eat like this about 70%-80% of the time. Although it was a struggle. As I got started, I realized how much I cheat. Like there are no circumstances where I should ever be eating pizza. And I rarely suggest to everyone that we go get some pizza. Except that if it’s there or someone else suggests it, I would probably eat it. And regret it shortly after that.
So I spent the first two weeks wanting junk food all the time. I would drive by a sports bar and imagine getting an order of those horrible nachos they serve there. It was pure withdrawal pangs, which implies I was eating a lot more junk food that I realized.
By the time I finished Week 2, I stopped craving cheese fries with chili and bacon bits. Granted, I would have preferred cheese fries to whatever sort of rabbit food I was eating, but it wasn’t much of a fight. And by the end of Week 3, I could finally finish a meal without a feeling of emptiness and longing.
Anyway, now that it’s almost over, I can say it’s been a success. I lost 7 lbs as of this morning, and more importantly, I lost most of from the midsection, exactly where I would have liked to lose weight from.
I feel a lot better. I have more energy and I’ve noticed some achy joints that aren’t achy any more. My mood has improved dramatically. This is probably the biggest benefit. I know especially when I eat something with wheat gluten, I get really short-tempered and moody.
If you’re wondering if I’d recommend you try this out yourself, the answer is yes. It’s only 30 days, and while the first week or two seemed to drag on and on, the last week was really easy. You’re almost certainly eating something that’s ruinous to your health and you won’t believe how good you could feel unless you stop eating it.
However, I’m a believer in the Pareto Principle which states that 80% of the effect comes from 20% of the effort. I was thinking about how I might do a Pareto-ized Whole30, where you could reap the most benefit with the least inner turmoil.
Here’s my theory. I would be interested to hear if anyone actually tried these to hear how it worked for them:
Give up all sweetened beverages. Natural or artificial sweeteners. There aren’t many desserts that have more sugar in them than a Big Gulp of Dr. Pepper.
No eating in restaurants. Prepare all your food yourself. There are exceptions of course, but there’s almost nothing you would make for yourself that would be more fattening that anything you can get at a restaurant.
I would guess that if most people in America did those two things, they would probably lose about five pounds in 30 days. Maybe more, depending on how often they eat out or how much Diet Pepsi they drink.
And if you’re already eating pretty healthy, dig through the Whole30 program and pick out a couple of things to try. Personally, I would recommend the alcohol. I’m certainly not one of those types who thinks nobody should ever drink, but alcohol has a ton of calories and you tend to make questionable eating choices when you’ve been drinking. So if you’re going to focus on healthy eating, that’s one way to do it.
And remember that it’s only 30 days, which is way less time than you’d think!